Gathering Sticks on Sunday


If the man in the moon

Gazing at the waning earth, watches

How the frayed edge of the sunset catches

Thimbles and nodules of rock,

Hachuring distinct with threads of shadow

All that is hammered flat in the earth’s brass noon;

And if he sees,

New in the level light,  like pock-

marks on a face, dark craters,

The size of acorn cups, or scars

Vast as his own dried oceans, then

He’ll know that soon

The living world of men

Will take a lunar look, as dead as slag,

And moon and earth will stare at one another

Like the cold, yellow skulls of child and mother.

Norman Nicholson

Advertisements

An unseasonable poem by Norman Nicholson 

South Cumberland, 16 May 1943


The sun has set

Behind Black Combe and the lower hills,

But northward in the sky the fells

Like gilded galleons on a sea of shadow

Float sunlit yet.

The liquid light

Soaks into the dry motes of the air,

Bright and moist until the flood of dawn;

Shoals of swifts round the market tower

Swim with fish-like flight.

Six days ago

The fells were limed with snow; the starlings on the chimney pots

Shook the falling flakes off their tin feathers.

May gives a sample of four seasons’ weathers

For a week on show.

Trouble at Mill


A cold, wet, windy weekend in store so what better excuse to settle down with some yarn, a good book, radio on one side, shelties on the other.  The lentil Hashis Parmentier in the slow cooker. 
One of the programmes I am looking forward to this weekend is Poetry Extra on radio 4 extra tomorrow afternoon.   I don’t read much poetry but there are 5 poets who I do read and re-read constantly – John Clare, Edward Thomas, Adam Thorpe, Ivor Gurney and Norman Nicholson.  If you know these poets you can probably see a common theme. 
Here is Coastal Journey, taken from Norman Nicholson’s Collected Poems.

Poetry Extra – Provincial Pleasures – Norman Nicholson – @BBCRadio4Extra http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09b6qt1

Fir Wood

The firs that taper into twigs and wear

The rich blue green of summer all the year,

Softening the roughest tempest almost calm,

And offering shelter ever still and warm

To the small path that travels underneath,

Where loudest winds almost as summer’s breath

Scarce fan the weed that lingers green below,

When others out of doors are lost in frost and snow,

And sweet the music trembles on the ear

As the wind suthers through each tiny spear,

Makeshifts for leaves, and yet so rich they show

Winter is almost summer where they grow.
John Clare

The Wood is Sweet – poems of Clare selected by David Powell

Published by the John Clare Society


Autumn Birds

 

dscf9584

 

The wild duck startles like a sudden thought

And heron slow as if it might be caught

The flopping crows on weary wing go bye

And grey beard jackdaws noising as they flye

The crowds of starnels wiz and hurry bye

And darken like a cloud the evening sky

The larks like thunder rise and suthy round

Then drop and nestle in the stubble ground

The wild swan hurrys high and noises loud

With white necks peering to the evening cloud

The weary rooks to distant woods are gone

With length of tail the magpie winnows on

To neighbouring tree and leaves the distant crow

While small birds nestle in the hedge below

 

John Clare

 

dscf9615

Happy Yorkshire Day

On the day that the Yorkshire Dales Park extends into Lancashire, and the Lake District National Park extends so that the borders of the two parks come within spitting distance of one another, what better way of celebrating than by sharing a poem by Cumbrian poet Norman Nicholson written in a Yorkshire dialect.

Nobbut God

First on, there was nobbut God, – Genesis 1, v 1., Yorkshire Dialect Translation.

 

 

First on

There was silence.

And God said:

‘Let there be clatter.’

 

The wind, unclenching,

Runs its thumbs

Along dry bristles of Yorkshire Fog.

 

The mountain ousel

Oboes its one note.

 

After rain

Water lobelia

Drips like a tap

On the tarn’s tight surface-tension.

 

But louder,

And every second nearer,

Like chain explosions

From furthest nebulae

Light-yearing across space:

The thudding of my own blood.

 

‘It’s nobbut me,’

Says God

 

Norman Nicholson

SEA TO THE WEST  (1981)